My Birthday Promise, by Ross Rosenberg

Self-Love Recovery Institute


Exactly one year ago, I decided to look into the mirror and courageously recognize the real man staring back at me. In a moment of brutal honesty I was absolutely shocked at what and who I saw. This supposedly happy and exceedingly successful person looked week, defeated and forlorn. His eyes radiated sadness, loneliness and secret shame.

His shameful secret carried so much toxic power that he had to bury it under mountains of professional projects and ambitions and a constant stream of affirmations and compliments.  Buried so deep that he couldn’t even allow himself to contemplate it.  Not even his best friend, son, or therapist were privy to it.

In this moment, standing emotionally naked in front of the mirror, he let himself dream of what he always wanted to be, but, because of his own devices, never had been able to achieve. But a deep dark cloud of sadness overtook him as he realized how much if his life…his world would have to change in order to achieve what seemed virtually impossible.

At this pivotal moment he calculated that 57 precious years were gone and there were not enough years left to justify the continuation of his dissociated secret-life. For the first time in his life he felt the increasing gravity of mortality. He got really frightened because time was actually running out!

He was done suffocating over the incongruity of his personal and professional lives.  Keeping secrets so big, that not even he knew about them, made him angry enough to think of a way out!

It was precisely in this moment he opened up his heart and allowed it to fully and honestly connect to his racing but all too willing-to-be-honest mind. He had decided to proclaim his pain and disappointment and no longer worry about people’s reaction to his mistakes. He knew he would survive.

To find the long-missing happiness in his life, and stop the sustained campaign of self-deceit, he would have to tear down the emotional, personal, relational, and professional structures in his life. He would have to start over, in some areas by scratch – when so little time seem to be left.

To finally break through to unadulterated self-love and self-generated happiness, he would have to risk personal and financial security. Accepting that his professional successes came at too high of a price tag, he stopped working 7 days a week and began to dismantle and reconfigure the carefully constructed machinery responsible for his professional successes.

Even more monumental, he would have to admit to the world (no one knew) that marriage number three had been irrevocably broken and had nothing in it to ever make him feel good about himself. No words could capture the shame and self-disgust he carried over his feelings/beliefs about mis-representing himself to his Self-Love Recovery community.

With fear but courageous conviction, he gave himself a one-year deadline for finding true happiness and self-love.  He had just 365 days to change everything.

It would be one of the most painful and difficult years in his life.

On March 16th of the year of 2019, he became the man he thought he could become. There is still work (lots of it) needed to keep the self-love abundant train moving forward, but that’s ok, because it’s life! And who said life is easy!

~ Ross Rosenberg, 2019

By Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed, LCPC, CADC
PsychotherapistAuthorEducatorExpert Witness

For more information about Ross’s Self-Love Recovery Program, write us at

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